National News, News

Critical Race Theory Still a Point of National Debate

History Professor Troy Smith taught his Appalachian Culture and History class on Feb. 8 in Henderson Hall. Smith always strives to provide his students with a fair and unvarnished depiction of history. Photo by Alex Rinks.

Florida is pushing to pass a bill to keep white people from feeling “discomfort” when teaching race in the classroom.

The bill refers to the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and would alter the curriculum to avoid white people feeling guilt from past historical actions.

Tech history professor Troy Smith believed history should be taught accurately. He said, “If it was taught inaccurately, what would be the point? I want to teach my students what actually happened, why it happened and what the consequences were.”

Smith strives to give a fair and unvarnished depiction of history.

“My goal is not to teach them what they wish happened. You have to understand how things got to be the way they are before you can ever have any hope of improving anything,” he said.

Bo York, Tech history major, said, “It is the responsibility of the educators to teach everything in history, not just pieces of it.”

York felt the Tech history professors do a great job of teaching history without shying away from controversial topics.

“From my experience, professors have done great at giving thorough depictions of history from all perspectives. They cover controversial topics that pertain to class and it has enhanced my knowledge on history,” he said.

Smith believed the issue comes from miseducation. He studied his doctorate on the history of race in America and found many people dislike critical race theory because they do not understand it.

“I have so far not encountered anyone who was upset about critical race theory who could accurately describe what it actually is; it has been conflated with any historical topic that might make some people uncomfortable,” Smith said. “It is not the job of a historian to make you comfortable. People and societies that stay comfortable cannot grow.”

Devon Cotter, the chairperson of diversity and inclusion for the chemical engineering department, magnified the importance of teaching diversity in his field.

“Historically, under-represented or marginalized individuals have significantly contributed to advances in science, technology, political change, and social evolution,” Cotter said. “These contributions are learning experiences that should be taught in the educational system.”

Cotter also stated the importance of learning about historical racism so no one discredits the hard work and achievements of diverse individuals throughout history.

“Rosalind Franklin was discredited during the time of her work and was absconded of a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine,” Cotter said. “Ultimately, historical accounts like this branch out to all disciplines and are often rooted in adversity on the basis of sex, race, gender identity and sexuality.”

Cotter believes proper education regarding race is the solution to this problem. He also felt it is important to surround yourself with a diverse group.

“Surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people will offer the world an endless number of new ideas and perspectives that can be utilized to solve some of the most rigorous and complex problems in our world,” Cotter said.

It is unknown whether the bill will be passed in Florida; however, the repercussions of its enactment could affect students and educators nationwide.